Perimeter Institute: The invisible universe

Find out what astronomers and physicists know about things that can’t be seen
By Daniel Kitts - Published on Mar 02, 2021
The Perimeter Institute will be hosting a public talk called “The Invisible Universe: Dark Matter and Black Holes” at 7 p.m. on March 3. (iStock/DWPhoto)

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One the most impressive things about people who study the universe is that they often can’t actually see what they’re studying.

For example, astronomers suspected the existence of both Neptune and Pluto before they could observe them through a telescope. They did this by watching the orbits of other planets and then calculated that their paths through space must be affected by the gravitational pull of then-unseen objects.

Today, scientists continue to examine what can’t really be seen, studying black holes and dark matter. We’ll probably never truly know what it’s like to be inside a black hole, since nothing can escape it. If we were close enough to try to send a space probe into one, the probe and any radio signals it emitted would be sucked in and crushed by the oppressive gravitational pull.

As for dark matter, we know that it’s there because of the way its gravity affects galaxies. And we know that it makes up more of the universe — much more — than the matter we can actually observe. We know all this, even though we can’t see it.

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To find out more about how scientists are furthering our understanding of black holes and dark matter, visit this page at 7 p.m. on March 3 for a live stream of “The Invisible Universe: Dark Matter and Black Holes," a public talk hosted by the Perimeter Institute, in Waterloo. The lecture will be delivered by Yale University’s Priyamvada Natarajan, whose research involves mapping the distribution of dark matter and tracing the growth history of black holes.


The Perimeter Institute’s public lectures are usually held once a month. TVO.org is streaming the entire 2020-21 series.

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